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The dreaded B-word


Burnout. It’s one word that all of us as gamers are familiar with.  And make no mistake, Gentle Reader…it will happen to you.  Nothing lasts forever, and that includes the obsession that you’re feeling with whatever is your current favorite game.  Even WoW.

In case you haven’t noticed, the content here on Achtung Panzercow has slowed down a fair bit.  This is partially due to a busy real life schedule that’s cut into my blogging time, but it’s mainly because I’ve hit a bit of burnout with WoW and with the blog simultaneously.  My gaming time over the past month has shifted more toward a brief fling with Star Trek Online (verdict:  good chance I won’t resubscribe when my free month ends on March 11) and finally, after three months of it sitting on my hard drive, making progress in Dragon Age:  Origins.  And even then I haven’t finished the game–I shelved my original human noble warrior and am now attempting to make a go of it with, of all things, a dwarf rogue ranger.  Yep, that’s right, kids…I’m playing my dwarf huntard in DA:O. So far, things are going well, except I’m still waiting for archery to actually be worth something.  Half the time he ends up drawing swords and running in to kick darkspawn in their rotted jubblies instead of standing at range and plinking with his crossbow.  But I digress.

I am a cyclical gamer–always have been, probably always will be.  My tendency, for the 21 years I’ve had a PC sitting on my desk at home and games to put on it, is to grab onto one New Thing, sink my teeth into it like a frenzied terrier, and go nuts on it.  That works with both single-player games and MMOs, by the way.  I “hit it like I mean it” for a period of time, playing it to the exclusion of most any other recreational gaming, and, depending on the game, to the exclusion of some sleep as well.

Then at some point, from a week to a few months later, the passion fades.  I still play, but not with the same intensity.  I go through a period where I hesitate to fire the game up, then to where I actually am sick of the game.  That’s usually when the Next New Thing comes along…or, as often as not, when an Old Thing comes back to life and snags me again.  The Great Wheel turns yet again, or, as we say in consumer-driven America, “lather, rinse, repeat.”

This cycle is why I still have a sub to EVE Online even though I rarely fire the game up anymore.  Every so often I get this jones to jump back in my Dominix or Retriever and mission or mine hard for a few days…and then I get over it, and I go a month only logging on to train skills.  (It’s why my EVE character damn near has more skill points than he does money.)  I do the same thing with flight simulation.  I have over 70 gigabytes of installed addons for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and Flight Simulator X, accumulated over a seven-year span.  I’ll go months without firing up either program, and suddenly one day I’ll get the urge to fly virtually again.  And then I’m in the “cockpit” every night for weeks.

The one game that has partially broken that pattern is World of Warcraft.  My interest in WoW waxes and wanes, as anyone’s does, but I’ve never put the Warcrack down and gone on a complete hiatus in the five years I’ve been playing–not for more than a few days, anyway.  I sat back over the weekend and thought about this, and there’s a few reasons for it.

The biggest, of course, is the people.  If you don’t fire up Dragon Age for a few weeks, Leiliana isn’t going to get worried where her main man went.  But in an MMORPG, those are real people on the other side of that monitor.  I’ve been fortunate to make a lot of acquaintances in five years on Feathermoon, and I enjoy their company.  I don’t want to let any burnout feelings I’m having with WoW affect my communication with them…I’m not tired of them, I’m tired of the game.  Big difference.

The second reason ties in with the first one, and that’s my raid.  I raid three times during the week right now, all on Linedan–Thursday and Friday night ICC 25 with The Anvil, and then a Saturday-afternoon ICC 10 (plus weekly raid quest) with some other Anvillains, including a few alts.  Now while tanks are somewhat rare these days, we’ve got four in our 25-man and some spares available for the 10 as well, so I’m by no means indispensable.  But I’ve always taken seriously the fact that by signing up each week to raid, I’m making a commitment to attend and to do my best in whatever role I’m assigned, be it tank or DPS or whatever.  Real life takes priority, of course.  If I’m sick, or an emergency comes up, or anything like that, I don’t raid–they’d chew me out if I did.  But if I’ve got 24 other people counting on me being there, especially if I’m slotted to tank?  What does it say about me if I just decide to blow that off without a good reason?

The third reason is a corollary to the second.  I’ve raided with The Anvil for well over three years now (except for a period early in TBC where I was part of another Karazhan raid).  I’ve persisted, and improved, and just hung in there, and slowly, glacially, geologically, moved from the days of being “Garr offtank #6″ and bottom-of-the-heap hybrid DPS warrior in Molten Core, to being professional #2 offtank all through Tier 4, 5, and 6 25-man content, to being part of our current four-man tank rotation as we poke and prod at Icecrown Citadel.  I don’t want to lose that.  I don’t want to disappear and then come back in a month to find that I’ve (rightfully) lost my spot to someone willing to put forth the effort to be there every night and now I have to go find another raid.  I don’t know even if I’d raid if that happened.

So I’ve got a lot of very good reasons to stay…but can those hold burnout at bay forever?  I don’t know.  So what I try to do, to mitigate the burnout, is reduce my WoW time outside of raiding.  But that runs into another problem.  Raiding nowadays is expensive. Working on progression content for three days usually costs me 150-200 gold in repair bills.  Even taking advantage of my wife having a flask-spec alchemist and a jewelcrafter, and The Anvil being incredibly generous with enchants and gems, and me being able to make Lin’s own sockets and buckles as a blacksmith, upgrades can cost a few hundred gold in raw gems for cutting or materials for enchanting.  Linedan rarely has more than 400 gold to his name.  I spent the couple thousand that he’d accumulated during the first month of the LFD system as I was able to rapidly upgrade several pieces of his then-deficient DPS set.  So I have to keep playing, at least a bit, in order to have the resources to stay on top of my game for the nine hours a week that I raid.

At this point, I don’t think I’m in any real danger of quitting the game anytime soon.  I still have a lot of fun.  But at the same time, the warning signs are there.  I have five level 80s and am leveling two more characters through Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord…and the thought of the grind through Dragonblight, to Grizzly Hills or Zul’drak, to Storm Peaks or Icecrown, isn’t exactly filling me with glee and happiness.  I have “been there, done that” many, many times.  My non-raid playtimes tend toward doing a lot of PUG dungeons, flying around herbing or mining while waiting 15 minutes to get in a random dungeon with people of random intelligence, skill, and personality.  I should break it up by roleplaying more, I know.  But roleplaying takes effort, and due to a myriad number of real-life things, mental effort is not something I’ve got a lot of right now…as witnessed by the fact that I started writing this blog post one week ago and am only now finishing it.

So how do you handle burnout?  What do you do when you feel it creeping up on you?  How do you handle your commitments to your guildmates and friends when your thoughts of logging on to raid change from “wow” to “meh?”  What do you do to make your WoW experience feel different after you’ve been through the content multiple times?

(And finally, as for the blog–Achtung Panzercow is going nowhere. I’m still here.  Updates may slow down a bit from time to time, but I have no intention of leaving either the game or this blog unless something radical happens.)

20 responses

  1. How does Pill handle teh burnout?

    Well, the one thing you said takes effort is pretty much how I handle it. I RP. Sit down at the bar, throw back a few drinks and interact with people around.

    The other thing is to just hang out in vent with the people there, just chatting.

    March 2, 2010 at 15:24

  2. I take breaks. Played a good bit of PS3 lately. Batman: Arkham Assylum, Assassins Creed 2, Uncharted 2, (all AWESOME, BTW) and will be getting into DA:O soon enough.

    And every now and then I remind myself what daylight is.

    I’m also trying out some differents specs on my main (healing on my drood instead of tanking) and messing around with alts. Just so that when I do go back into the game, it’s not like I’m going in to do chores… I’m doing something new (or at least new-ish)…

    March 2, 2010 at 15:58

  3. Honestly, how I handle burnout is denial.

    I think, “Oh, I just feel that way TODAY” and keep on logging in, because it’s habit and I think the feelings will go away.

    Eventually I get to the “not logging in at all” phase – which happily gives me time to read and focus on the books I have gathering dust. I can get lost in a good series for weeks. Luckily (luckily?) I don’t really have anyone in game anymore that I am close to that would worry if I just vanish out of nowhere, so I don’t have the nagging “disappearance guilt” hanging over me.

    March 2, 2010 at 17:33

  4. Hmmmm, burnout… Well, in my case, after burning out in the first wing in ICC, I’ve been trying out other games (both single player and MMO; it’s been a good month for it, with STO, Bioshock 2, Mass Effect 2, and I’m about to install Aliens vs Predator). Nothing’s really caught my imagination the way WoW has though, so I’m just bouncing from distraction to distraction.

    As far as guild commitments, I’d just joined a new raiding guild before the first wing in ICC opened (my old guild disbanded after ToC, and most people I knew either server transferred, quit the game, or just drifted away without the social cohesion that comes with sharing a raiding schedule), so felt fine just letting an officer know that I was getting burnt out and would it be ok if I started sitting out. I haven’t raided since then, just logging in occasionally to do stuff in the AH.

    Making the game experience feel different? I think the only thing that could do that for me at this stage would be new social contacts in the game, and that’s challenging as I’m not a person who forms new friendships easily or quickly.

    Anyway, my secret for coping with burn-out just comes down to “Don’t force it.” Closely followed by “Oooh, shiny!”

    March 2, 2010 at 22:10

  5. I will usually just get burned out on one or two toons, so I just switch to an alt. This does have it’s good points- my Belf hunters are getting leveled, as is my troll shammy on Wyrmrest. Then eventually I get to the point that I miss my “main” toons enough that I go back to them.

    I do have a couple other games that I play, but lately I’ve been sticking to WoW. The option to log on LOTRO or Runes of Magic is always there, though, if I need it.

    March 3, 2010 at 02:15

  6. Mac

    Heya dude,

    I’ve never posted on your blog before but Ive run into you in game and on forums many times. I was thinking about Lin the other day and suddenly decided to post for I dunno why reasons.

    I just wanna say how much I enjoyed chating to you when I did and I hope life, wow and stuff finds you well.

    Peace.

    Mac

    March 3, 2010 at 05:28

  7. Tam

    “Yep, that’s right, kids…I’m playing my dwarf huntard in DA:O. So far, things are going well, except I’m still waiting for archery to actually be worth something.”

    I hate to break it to you … but you’ll be waiting a while :P

    March 3, 2010 at 11:08

  8. Banibaq

    As of now, I have a few other completely different games lined up to get my mind off of WoW if necessary. Especially in the beginning of this year I just logged on to raid and even took a complete week off that I spent with my girl friend more intensely [who very much appreciated it I might add ;)], but it helped a lot to refresh my mind to go back and tackle progression once more.
    I have to agree with you, raiding with a tight group is what really keeps me coming back! And it is not only the raid group itself but the entire guild (Bucklers of Swash, US-Mug’thol) that is hilariously entertaining and has become a completely new circle of friends to me.
    I don’t see myself hitting a burnout phase any time soon, but games like CoD:MW2 and Unchartered 2 have slowly crept up on the hours that I don’t raid.

    Too much of something is never good :)

    March 3, 2010 at 11:25

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  10. Dicking around on low-level alts where there’s no pressure in my head to really make progress is my usual treatment. It is for this reason that I have a level 58 Death Knight with 300 fishing, cooking, herbalism, and alchemy.

    The other cure is doing stuff with guildies that’s fun and completely pointless; stuff like having a base-jumping competition off Dalaran with characters with slow fall and parachute (one guy with both managed to stick a landing on Icecrown Citadel), taking over the Ironforge Thanksgiving tables during that holiday, things like that.

    March 3, 2010 at 15:00

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  12. Xeva

    Hi there,

    I am levelling up a warrior tank and just found your blog. Your guide is fantastic and has really helped me figure out the whole tanking thing. Thank you very much!

    As for burning out, I burnt out back in TBC and left WoW for a little over a year, so I know how you feel. Good luck with everything and thanks again for the great tanking advice!

    Oh! By the way, my warrior just hit level 40 and things are going great due to your advice.

    March 4, 2010 at 01:15

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